Parents of Indiana toddler who fell off cruise ship say they don't blame her 'distraught' grandfather: 'She was his best friend'
The parents of the Indiana toddler Chloe Wiegand, who died after falling through an open window on a cruise ship while being held by her grandfather, revealed that they do not blame him for the death of their child. The parents also revealed the chilling moment when they learned that their baby girl had died.
Chloe died earlier this month after falling 150ft from an open window on the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship onto a concrete dock in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Seconds before the tragedy, the toddler's grandfather, Salvatore 'Sam' Anello, had held her to a "wall of windows" so that she could bang on the glass, something that the 18-month-old loved to do.
However, unbeknownst to him, the particular window he had held the child up to had been slid open, causing the child to fall onto the deck from the 11th floor.
An interview, featuring the toddler's cop father Alan and mother Kimberly, aired on TODAY on Monday, where the couple publicly spoke about the tragedy for the first time and revealed how the grandfather is still distraught.
The pair have blamed the cruise liner for the death of their child, and said that their explanation on why the window was open — for "ventilation" — was not enough.
Kimberly said that she was first told that something had happened to Chloe and she was unaware that she had fallen through the window. She reportedly ran up to it and demanded to know where the baby was, and then she looked outside and saw the concrete flood the toddler had fallen onto.
"When they told me Chloe had died, I didn't know she went out a window. I just saw Sam standing next to the wall of windows, screaming and banging on it and there was like somebody trying to stop me," Kimberly said during the interview. "I just kept saying, 'Take me to my baby. Where is my baby?''
"I didn't know she had gone out the window. Then I looked over, and it wasn't water beneath, it was concrete. To lose our baby this way is just unfathomable. I never want another mother to have to experience what I had to, to see what I had to see or scream or how I had to scream," she said.
The parents also revealed how distraught the grandfather was after the incident and reportedly had to be sedated because he had become "hysterical" after the incident.
"He was extremely hysterical. The thing he repeatedly told us was, I believed there was glass. He would cry, over and over," Kimberly said. "At no point ever, ever, has Sam put our kids in any danger."
"He was very, very distraught," Alan added. "You can barely look at him without him crying. She was his best friend."
The pair said that they "obviously" blame the Royal Caribbean for Chloe's death and is now planning to take legal action against the firm.
"We obviously blame them. There are a million things that could have been done to make that safer," Kimberly said. "Why on earth is a window open on the 11th floor without a screen or anything? Their answer was 'we need ventilation.'"
"Well to that I say, get a fan," Kimberly said.
The heartbroken mother revealed how she wakes up every day forgetting what has happened for nearly 30 seconds before the sadness dawns on her.
"The first 30 seconds of the day, I don't remember what happened and then it comes back and I relive what happened. The thing I latch on to is her memory, she just exuded love. She loved watching her brother play hockey, she loved gardening with me. She could get anyone to smile. I just know that she was destined to do such great things, even in her short life I truly believe she changes so many lives," she added.
While the child's father said: "We'll never forget her. She is part of our soul."